Trekking in Nepal – Post-trip: Afterward

The word Himalaya is Sanskrit for ‘abode of snows’. It is Himalaya, by the way, and never Himalayas. Nepal’s stretch of the Himalaya includes eight peaks over 8000 metres, including the highest of them all, mighty Mount Everest. It is known to the Tibetans as Chomolongma, and to the Nepalese as Sagarmatha. There are fourteen peaks over 8000m in the world, and of the ten highest no less than eight are in Nepal.

Highest mountains in the world seen:
1. Everest 8848m
4. Lhotse 8511m
5. Makalu 8475m
8. Cho Oyu 8153m
10. Annapurna I 8091m

There is no question that Nepal offers some of the most spectacular and beautiful scenery in the world. Mountain flights may give you superb views, but there is nothing like walking up on a crystal-clear Himalayan day and seeing an 8000m peak towering over you, seemingly just an arm’s length away.

The mountains may be the most obvious scenic attraction, but trekkers soon find there are other treats for the eye. The hill country is often breathtakingly beautiful with pretty little villages, attractive houses, neat fields and interesting temples. As you climb higher the lowlands give way to meadows, stretches of forest, swift-flowing rivers and deep canyons before you reach the cold and barren regions at the foot of the great peaks.

Nepal is a country of contrasts and this extends to the people as well as the landscape. People are constantly passing by on the trails and there are regularly spaced villages to pause in. The outgoing nature, general friendliness and good humour of the Nepalese is evident. Trekking companions are another important part of the trekking experience. It is a great opportunity to make friends from other parts of the world and to enjoy yourself. The number of trekkers are minuscule compared to crowds visiting national parks in the west.

The attractions of the Everest trek are spectacular scenery and the outgoing Sherpa people of the Solu Khumbu, the region where Mount Everest and its attendant lesser peaks are located.

Day after day we walked through the mountains passing through one village then another, each a little further from a road, bus, car or any motor vehicle, even a bicycle. The tea houses we stayed at, are chalet-like with balconies, shutters, slate or wooden roofs, and their cattle, the yaks, wear neck bells. It was rare to see water running from a tap, rarer still to see electricity. Nepal is a primitive country, and the people are self sufficient.

We often walked past the locals. Namasté was the usual greeting; its meaning encompasses ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ as well as ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’ or ‘good evening’. There were children everywhere, smiling faces and rosy red cheeks. Some look no more than seven or eight, carrying loads twice their size up footpaths as steep as staircases.

One of the advantages of trekking is that you can eat and eat without gaining any weight at all. I grazed all day on food, and it was not unusual to have three substantial meals a day. Not surprisingly, I gained a well deserved reputation for overdosing on food and drink. According to the guide books, it is essential for anyone who wants to stay healthy at altitude to drink at least 3-4 litres a day, and to maintain a good appetite.

We would climb up ever steeper and bewilderingly beautiful hills and down again, over rickety wooden suspension bridges slung across rivers in the valleys. Each day I felt a little fitter, a little stronger and more tanned! It was a holiday for the body as well as the spirit.

My appetite for this type of experience has been whetted, and I have no doubt that I will go trekking again in the Himalaya sometime in the future.